2 young women lead PdC Class of 2019

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Valedictorian Kara Katzung & Salutatorian Ella Hein

Prairie du Chien has announced its valedictorian, Kara Katzung, and salutatorian, Ella Hein, for the graduating Class of 2019. They will be recognized during this year’s commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 26, at 2 p.m., in the Prairie du Chien High School gymnasium.

Valedictorian Kara Katzung is the daughter of Darren and Tammie Katzung, of Prairie du Chien. She intends on attending UW-Madison this fall for biology, with eventual plans of going into optometry or ophthalmology. 

Throughout her high school career, Kara has been tremendously active. She’s been a member of a long list of clubs, including Skills USA (president), student council, National Honor Society, Key Club (treasurer), Interact Club (treasurer), forensics, International Club, Clay Target League, PALS student mentoring, mock trial, Sources of Strength and the math competition team. In extra-curricular activities, Kara was part of the state runner-up dance team and soccer team. 

She’s also accumulated various honors during her four years in Prairie du Chien. She’s an AP Scholar with Distinction, a Herb Kohl Scholar, received AP and PLTW Student Achievement awards in engineering, was a DAR Good Citizen, student of the month and a National Honor Society top junior.

Her resume doesn’t stop there. Kara has volunteered 40 hours per year as a PALS student mentor. She’s helped at the Children’s Ranch with lessons and parties for about 30 hours per year. She’s also given time to bingo at the nursing home, the Villa Louis Carriage Classic, bell ringing for the Salvation Army, blood drives, the local mud run and concession stands for the Booster Club. Kara was also a teaching assistant at the local dance studio for a year, participated in the Dancing with the Hawkettes fundraiser and volunteered at the Monster Bash, to name a few of her contributions.

When she’s not busy with school, Kara also works at Ashley Furniture Homestore.

She said the one teacher who has made the greatest impact on her has been Ms. White, who was influential and a great mentor throughout the college search, application and scholarship process. Additionally, she lists her parents as her inspiration because “they’re the hardest working people I know and they never settle for ‘good enough.’”

Reflecting on her time at PdCHS, Kara feels she’s become detail oriented and developed a strong intrinsic motivation to learn. 

“Along with these attributes comes plenty of stress since I strive to go above and beyond in everything I am involved in,” she stated.

Kara had some wise comments about her observations the past four years. “If I could change something about high school, it would be the daily schedule,” she shared. “I feel that having less classes, but longer class periods would allow students to really focus on those particular classes, rather than cramming in material during class time and then expecting students to process the material by themselves. Longer class periods would allow time for hands on learning time after being presented material so that it really sticks.” 

She said she’d also like to see the school have a better designated time for tending to college applications and scholarships than during ESR (reading) time. “I think this would allow students to apply for more scholarships than they currently do.”

After graduation, Kara feels she will miss how close-knit the school and community are. She loves that “everyone knows everyone” and that there is strong support for the high school throughout the community. Yet, she’s excited to start a career in optometry or ophthalmology. 

“One day, I hope to potentially run my own practice,” she said.

Her advice to underclassmen is simple: “One day when your life flashes before your eyes make sure it’s worth watching.”

Salutatorian Ella Hein is the daughter of Dale and Kathleen Hein, of Prairie du Chien. She will attend Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., and major in physics.

During her time in Prairie, Ella has been highly busy as well, engaging in activities via student council, Interact Club, International Club, Key Club, cross country, track, dance team, orienteering, vocal jazz, choir and the musical. Among her honors have been induction into the National Honor Society, in addition to sports and academic letters and pins. She’s an AP Scholar and cross country captain.

Community service has been a big part of Ella’s young life thus far. She’s been a Water Activist Volunteer (WAV), iFEED and food pantry volunteer, blood drive volunteer, played bingo at the nursing home, and given time toward the color run, Relay for Life, Driftless Wisconsin Grown and the Mississippi Island Restoration. As a dancer, she was among those giving back by way of the Dancing with the Hawkettes fundraiser.

Before moving with her family this year and studying abroad in Västervik, Sweden, Ella worked at Muddy Waters Pizza and Valley Fish and Cheese in Prairie du Chien. 

Academically, Ella is a self-motivated student who is passionate about her endeavors. She believes procrastination has been her biggest obstacle however, making it difficult sometimes to juggle school, sports and clubs.

“This past year in Sweden has also been challenging. I’ve had to learn a new language so that I could study in the natural science program at the gymnasium while taking an AP calc class through PdC’s distance learning program,” she stated.

When asked about her teachers at PdCHS, Ella said all of them have impacted her in some way.  Yet, she said, “Mr. Hutter’s attention to teaching for the purpose of teaching, and not grading, really helped me love the sciences. At the same time, Mr. Antoniewicz’s calm yet passionate attitude toward math and engineering taught me to love those subjects and has also inspired me to study physics. Ms. White also greatly impacted me as she acted not only as a teacher but as a mentor. I could always count on her if I had any questions or needed help with anything from scholarships to college applications.”

Ella added that the Danish foreign exchange student, Magnus Goltermann, who spent a year in Prairie, inspired her to travel abroad.

As graduation nears, she commented that she’ll miss the camaraderie of her classmates, teachers and community. “I am truly grateful for my upbringing in Prairie du Chien. Its small size gave me the opportunity to bond with my neighbors, classmates, and teachers alike,” she said. 

Looking ahead, she’s ready for new adventures. She said, “I have no idea where I’ll be in the next five years but I’m hoping, by then, I’ll have learned more, traveled more, and made as many great memories as I did in my years within the PDC public school system.

Turning to her underclassmen, she shared these words of wisdom: “Be yourself and pursue your own passions. High school is what you make of it. Take it as an opportunity to discover your passions.”

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